PARIS: The global Covid-19 death toll passed three million on Saturday as the pandemic speeds up despite vaccination campaigns, leading countries like India to impose new lockdowns to fight spiralling infection numbers. It is the latest grim milestone since the novel coronavirus first surfaced in central China in December 2019 and went on to infect more than 139 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.
An average of more than 12,000 deaths were recorded globally every day in the past week, shooting the overall toll past three million on Saturday, according to an AFP tally.
For comparison, three million people is more than the population of Jamaica or Armenia - and three times the death toll of the Iran-Iraq war which raged from 1980-1988.
And the pandemic is showing no sign of slowing down: the 829,596 new infections reported worldwide on Friday is the highest number yet, according to AFP's tally.
The daily average of 731,000 cases registered over the last week is also close to being a record.
India's capital New Delhi went into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the world's second-most populous nation recorded 234,000 new cases and 1,341 deaths.
India now has three times the daily cases of the United States, the world's worst-hit nation, and families are clamouring for drugs and hospital beds. Richer countries that have waged mass inoculation efforts have seen their virus numbers plummet. Britain, which has given 60 percent of the population at least one vaccination dose, now records around 30 deaths a day - down from 1,200 in late January.
Thailand recorded its fourth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases on Saturday, with spiralling infections linked to a nightlife district of the capital Bangkok earlier this month.
Alcohol sales will be banned in Bangkok restaurants from Sunday, while entertainment venues will be shuttered across the country for two weeks.
In Japan, rising virus cases have stoked speculation that the Olympic Games - postponed last year due to the pandemic - could be cancelled.
In Brazil, the country with the third-highest death toll in the world, night shifts have been added to several cemeteries as diggers work around the clock to bury the dead.
Despite the high infection rate, the government of Brazil's most populous state Sao Paulo announced it will allow businesses and places of worship to reopen from Sunday.
But there was better news in Europe, where some countries are easing their lockdowns in response to not only fatigue, but falling infection numbers and progress with vaccinations. Italy announced Friday it will ease coronavirus restrictions for schools and restaurants from April 26.